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Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

by on 2011/10/24

“You don’t wanna get mixed up with a guy like me. I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.”

* * * *

I have a lot of trouble taking things at all seriously. People who are painfully earnest are absolutely hilarious to me.

For me, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure was more than just a movie, it was a revelation.

As a childish person, and I mean sustainably, all my life childish, Pee-wee was like a glimmer of hope in an extremely lame, serious world.

Pee-wee is his own man (child), with an incredible life made up of magic tricks, pranks, kitsch, retro clothes and sweet air on his bike.

When Pee-wee made breakfast with an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine made out of toys in the first scene, I was hooked. This is what it sounds like when doves cry.

This movie – Tim Burton’s first full-length feature, written by Paul Reubens and the legendary Phil Hartman – made me feel that there were people out there who were just like me. Immature, eccentric, awesome people.

I wasn’t wrong.

Pee-wee, while exuberant, gleeful, is no saccharine Spongebob. He’s prickly, difficult and exacting. He goes his own way. He has his enemies, notably Francis Buxton (Mark Holton), who covet Pee-wee’s many wonderful things, including Pee-wee’s incredible red bike.

When the spoiled, whiny, grasping Francis arranges the bike’s brutal kidnap, Pee-wee sets out across country to find it.

This film is an ambrosia salad (with extra marshmallows) of film noir, mystery and road movie elements.  Despite its blinking, whirling kaleidoscope appearance, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure is delightfully simple: a road trip across America to track down a bicycle.

Sound boring? Nope, it really, really isn’t. There’s a giant T-Rex, psychic predictions, a ghostly truck driver, several near-death experiences at a biker roadhouse, a cameo of 80s hair band “Twisted Sister” and one of the greatest dance scenes in history – set to the tune of “Tequila.”

I loved it utterly.

Most of all, I wanted Pee-wee’s life, minus the bike theft and fleshy enemy. Happily, thanks to an inexplicably sustained period of well-paying employment since my last exam in university, I get to surround myself with kitsch, play video games and go to comic book shops whenever I want.

While my home isn’t quite as cool as Pee-wee’s – I wish I had Tim Burton around to design my ideal home – it is mine. Like Pee-wee, I’m a loner. I pay my own way, live my life the way I want.

After this first film, I followed Paul Reubens wherever he did go. I was a die-hard fan of the cult TV hit Pee-wee’s Playhouse. I have even forced Miss_Tree to watch Pee-wee’s Christmas Special several times.

And I will do it again.

Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) is like a kind of god to me. You know, if I believed in god.

Again, for the uninitiated, check out the cosmic greatness that is Pee-wee on his official site

* * * *

90 minutes

Rated PG for Large Marge, bike larceny and a shirtless Francis in the bath

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